Blog - Agent Topics

First Contact Resolution – The Foundation of Customer Experience

10/29/2013

Customer experiences are the make or break metric for contact centers. We are very aware that customers want to have their issues and questions handled quickly, correctly and via the channel they prefer. Obviously this is the primary focus of every good agent in a contact center. However, when it comes to managing and achieving first contact resolution, we can be our own worst enemy.

Adding the complexity of multi-channel interaction coupled with a focus on the “metric of the moment” such as NPS, our focus can wane from what is important. Interestingly, first contact resolution is actually what customers expect from an agent. If they have to wait or be escalated repeatedly, the customer satisfaction is minimized and frustration is increased. When the leadership becomes distracted by a multitude of metrics or other operational initiatives, the foundation required for agents to ensure first contact resolution can be negatively impacted.

To ensure that first contact resolution is achieved as often as possible, consider the following:

  1. Multi-channel requires stronger communication – agents adept at email may not be the best at phone interactions. Regardless of the channel, the agent must be empowered to answer the question quickly and with the channel in mind. For example, if the contact center’s knowledge base has long, extensive answers to questions, then the ability for an agent to respond via Twitter is compromised. It is important to analyze knowledge bases, and ensure that every agent interacting with a customer has the information needed to provide an immediate resolution based on the channel.
  2. Keep escalations in alignment with originating transactions – If a customer has reached out via email and the resolution cannot be immediate, it is important to continue the conversation via email whenever possible. There may be scenarios where a call is necessary, but these should be scheduled. Customers choose channels they are comfortable with, so changing in mid-stream over an escalation is a double-frustration for the customer.
  3. Be prepared to adjust metric goals – first contact resolution can create longer average handle times, particularly when a new product or service is rolled out and generates additional transactions. By adjusting metrics based on the environment of the contact center, you empower agents to take care of the most important thing – the customer.
  4. Empower agents to go “off script” – this may seem like a no-brainer in this day and time, but there are still contact centers that live and die by scripts. That will not give the agents the ability to get to the root issue in order to provide first contact resolution. Furthermore, scripts may increase escalations, causing more frustration for everyone involved.
  5. Create 360 degree communication cycles – in order to improve knowledge bases, training, and communication, make sure that all points of escalation have an easy way to provide answers and knowledge to front-line agents. There is plenty of technology available to support these endeavors. Taking the time to retrieve the information from all the escalation points along a transaction path will definitely give front-line agents the information needed for next time. Consider building a team of front-line agents that are responsible for retrieving and disseminating this information so that the agents get what they need as soon as possible.

The important fact about first contact resolution is that customers expect it. They are not necessarily “wowed” by the fact that they receive an answer immediately, but they are unimpressed when they do not. Good customer experiences rely on first contact resolution, making it an important metric and high priority for all contact centers.

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